Robert Pally and Martin Gordon reflect upon fish for Ear Candy Spring Edition 2018
1: Is the chicken, excuse me, glass half full or half empty? (Just checking your way of thinking)
The glass is almost completely empty and the chicken has unfortunately just escaped, so there’s nothing for supper, in both the literal and metaphorical senses. Instead of the planned evening’s activities of a slap-up dinner followed by convivial drinking with like-minded friends, it’s dry crusts of bread followed by Dieter Bohlen on the telly and that, I can tell you, is a fate worse than death.
The song to which you refer is, in a small way, a tribute to the self-proclaimed Pop Titan. An extremely small way. I believe Dieter Bohlen is almost unknown outside Germany. This is the way things should be, and hopefully the way they will remain.
2: “Thanks For All The Fish” is your first solo album of the Post Mammal Era. Can you tell me more about it (Post Mammal Era ) and what was the trigger for the change?
The trigger was having a knee operation and then being laid up for three months, during which time all I did was watch the unfolding Trump and Brexit disasters. During this time, I fulminated but did not create.
I asked a few like-minded musicians if they would contribute some compositions to an anti-Trump album. Some kindly said yes, others didn’t respond, and still others, rather surprisingly, said that they thought that politics should kept out of pop music. “But as politics has now become entertainment”, I responded, “shouldn’t entertainment now at least address politics?” A cowardly silence ensued. I decided I would do it myself.
So as soon as I was hobbling around again, I found myself positively erupting with all this material and – well, frankly there we are.
If I was to be pedantic, which I feel I should be as I am now German, I would point out that the post-Mammal era actually began with the earlier ‘Gilbert Gordon & Sullivan’ album, and so this is strictly speaking the second installment. The post-Mammal era (the PME) is defined by my fond belief that I can capably handle (most of) the vocal duties. I do however still call in the professionals in extremis, and will be performing with my old pal Pelle Almgren in April in Sweden. So there I rest my case, or most of it.
4: The purpose of “Thanks For All The Fish” is…………………………… (please fill in)?
What on earth happened to question 3? Oh, well. To thank people for all the fish they have given me over the years. They have given me an enormous quantity of fish, which has in turn brought me an enormous amount of fishy pleasure. All kinds of people, both kind and otherwise, have given me enormous quantities of fish, of all species but especially bream. And haddock. I am not ungrateful.
5: The first single of the album is called “God’s Not Great” (with heavenly chorus). Are not we humans who (mis) use him for our purposes?
We are indeed. Personally my favourite God is the blue flute-playing elephant. I’d vote for Ganesh as POTUS in a flash.
6: The title track “Thanks For All The Fish” is close to suicidal hymn……. Where will we see us again, in heaven or hell?
You can probably guess what I think. Either in hell or in Marzahn.
7: Why did you recycle one of your Radio Stars songs («The Beast Of Barnsley») to have a go on Erdogan?
While I was laid up and on crutches, how could I avoid the Exploits of Erdogan? He has recently dropped down in the despot stakes, sensibly yielding to Trump, Rees-Mogg and Duterte, but I feel he will soon be heading for his Big Comeback. There was a Radio Stars box set due out in the middle of 2017 (‘Thinking Inside the Box’) and I suggested to singer Andy Ellison that we knock out an updated version of the Beast. I’m not sure that he knew what an Ankara was, but he did his best. And then I revisited my re-visitation of the tune for this album, feeling that the Erdog would fit right in with the assembled company, albeit with added drums. I’m quite tempted to revisit a bunch of my old tunes. ‘Plenty of Russians in the USA’, for example, or ‘Gross Personality’. Food for thought, at any rate.
8: Who is to blame for state of the world (“Grim”)?
Ralf Leeman is to blame. It is all entirely his fault. Not many people know this. Now it is time for the story to be told.
9: A few words about the Brexit (“Idiots”)?
Well, I became German as a result of the Idiotic chorus coming from the UK. They don’t like it up ’em, you know.
10: How do you manage not to lose your mind (Tiny Mind)?
With great difficulty. Recording projects like this one can help to a degree, but it’s still touch and go.
11: Political Correctness should be…………… (please fill in)?
Observed, contrary to my original view while studying sociology and being taught by Marxist feminist. Words express philosophies. Saying “Down this drink, rip your knickers off and dance on that table” reveals the unreconstructed idiot hiding in the semantic undergrowth.
12: Three times (if I counted correctly) you have a go on Donald Trump. Has he already called you fake news?
Not so far, but my earlier rendering of the song ‘Dump the Trump’ has been defined by YouTube as ‘unsuitable for ads’. What YouTube will make of the rest of the album I have no idea, but that song is fairly representative lyrically, so I am forewarned. Or perhaps they objected to Ralf’s stable-genius-style guitar solo. You never can tell with some people.
13: What is a positive way to react to people like Trump or Erdogan (“The Beast Of Ankara”)?
Perhaps the best reaction would be to dig a large hole and put Trump and Erdogan in it. If they refuse to get in, get in yourself.
14: In some way the cynicism on “Thanks For All The Fish” reminds me on the Dead Kennedys (Kill the Poor, Holidays in Cambodia). That led their Singer Jello Biafra to political activities. Will you also go into politics?
If I were to properly master the local language, I would certainly get active. I’m working on it, but it’s a long haul. However I do try to do my polemic bit to encourage outside-the-box-thinking, such as making this album, even though as someone once remarked, thinking outside the box would be made very much easier if there was any discernible sign of thinking inside the box.
15: Is the world in such a bad shape that cynicism is all there is left?
I think it’s the only rational choice, to be frank. I note, without too much surprise, that my 13 year-old son is already a confirmed cynic.
16: How do you wanna end your musical career, with an album like “Thanks For All The Fish”?
I think it’s a good bookend. But who knows what the future holds for us. I was driven by rage and frustration to write this collection, and I’m sure there is much more rage and frustration coming my/our way. So we will see…
17: How will you spend your life till the end?
As I am now rapidly approaching middle age, as a former colleague of mine once remarked at the age of 55, time flies by much faster. But I currently hope to last at least until the middle of next week.
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